What is a Good Toy?

by Karen Scarvie

A Good Toy is open-ended and unstructured. It allows the child to use it in a variety of ways over a period of time, and to follow his own leads in the exploration process. It does not limit the child's imagination with prescribed and "right" ways of playing with it.

A Good Toy invites the child to participate. It stirs her imagination and helps her connect to her own talents and interests. It encourages the child to be an active participant and not to be passively entertained. Play is the child's work.

A Good Toy fits the child's age and stage of development. Toys given too early or too late are unlikely to provide satisfaction or enjoyment. Development is sequential; that is, later stages are built upon earlier ones. Well-chosen toys provide appropriate experiences in each stage of development and help children build strong foundations.

A Good Toy fulfills a need in a given area of play. A child does not need many toys. Rather, he needs some toys for a variety of experiences such as those provided in building play, outdoor play, fantasy play, art and musical activities.

A Good Toy is sturdy, durable and well-made. A broken toy due to shoddy workmanship is a great disappointment to a child. A sturdy toy not only has lasting value, but fosters an appreciation and respect for quality workmanship and beauty.

A Good Toy reflects good values. Toys are messages to children about what is important in their world. In selecting a toy it is always wise to ask the question: "is this toy in keeping with what I want my children to grow up to be.

A Good Toy is given out of love ... not as a substitute for love.